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Partridge, S. (2013). Boarding School Syndrome: Disguised Attachment-Deficit and Dissociation Reinforced by Institutional Neglect and Abuse. Att: New Dir. in Psychother. Relat. Psychoanal., 7(2):202-213.

(2013). Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis, 7(2):202-213

Boarding School Syndrome: Disguised Attachment-Deficit and Dissociation Reinforced by Institutional Neglect and Abuse

Simon Partridge

My paper was the first one given by a boarding school survivor to a group of psychotherapists and trainees—by invitation from the Inner City Centre psychotherapy charity, January 2013. The paper is partly based on my personal experience of boarding school, and the subsequent failure of my psychoanalysts to recognise or help me deal with the grave psychosomatic-emotional consequences. It aimed to bring home the reality of the trauma (complex and acute) suffered by those sent off to prep boarding school between the ages of six (sometimes even younger) and thirteen, and to provide a brief history of the evolution of the diagnostic category “boarding school syndrome”. It was illustrated by the documentary film Leaving Home at 8 (2010), which I then linked to the path-breaking film by James Robertson, A Two-year-old Goes to Hospital (1952), which Bowlby sponsored. The latter led to a successful campaign to abolish the practice of leaving young children alone without care-givers in hospitals. Drawing on this precedent, the paper ends with a plea for an alliance of survivors, psychotherapists, and sympathisers to come together to campaign to put an end to early boarding.

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